Your local church has a wide array of social media options. Figuring out how to best involve your church is not as complicated as it may seem.
1. Know what is available.
On Facebook, your church should have a “page” that is managed by a pastor or
leader. Another good use of Facebook is to have groups for your Bible studies (although leaders should know that some Bible study members may not be on Facebook). Twitter is great for sharing events and links to sermons and other resources. Put pictures on both Instagram and Twitter. After getting started with these social networks, you can look into the slightly more complicated tools, such as chat apps (e.g., iMessage and GroupMe) and email campaign services (e.g., MailChimp). Do your research and try different things to find out what works for your church.
2. Get leaders involved.
Social media campaigns will not work unless your leaders are on board. Key people in your church can help increase reach. Let a team of people know when the church publishes links or events. This will allow your leaders and other members to increase your church’s reach by sharing links and events with their friends. Collecting information from your church’s departments will also give your social media person more content to publish and keep people engaged in your campaign. Leaders’ involvement will allow them to understand the amount of social media activity among those active in the church and will help leaders communicate with members and attendees more effectively.
3. Photos and videos connect people.
We are more likely to engage with images and videos than we are to read text. For compelling evidence of this, go to Facebook, flip through your feed, and take a rough count of how many posts you see with pictures or videos versus text alone. If your local church has an event, assign someone to take photos. Record sermons, music, announcements and Sunday previews. Several companies will help you compile and distribute all of these recordings. To get your church video online, we suggest our partner, MediaFusion (mediafusionapp.com), especially because this company offers the opportunity to live-stream your services.
4. Keep your website current.
Recording services leads us to the need for an up-to-date website. Use SiteTackle (sitetackle.com) to create an easy-to-use website for your church. Connect your church’s website to the congregation’s social media. This will increase traffic both to your website and your social media. Here is the catch: Your information has to be current. If visitors check your website in October and see Easter service
announcements, they will be turned off quickly. Many people have stories about showing up early or late for a church service because of an inaccurate website. Talk about first impressions!
5. Create a content calendar.
To make sure your information is current and your content is fresh, create a content calendar and have a plan that involves all of your church’s events. A content calendar is a simple but invaluable tool. Using a spreadsheet or Google Calendar (google.com/calendar), compile everything we’ve talked about so far into a scheduled plan. Great templates are available online, but a good starting place for a spreadsheet layout includes four columns: date/time, content title, picture and link. This will help you keep track of what and how often you are posting. Plan your social media around sermon series, major church events and the traditional church calendar.
6. Be ready to adapt.
This is probably the most important point here. As the old saying goes, “The only constant in life is change.” Since Facebook launched in 2004, our world has changed rapidly. Whether you think that is a good thing or a bad thing, it is an undeniable truth that we must confront. Every month, the next big application launches, the next phone game craze begins, and the next major technological breakthrough happens. The church must take notice of the changing social interaction and react accordingly.
The invention of the printing press meant placing the Word of God in the hands of people who would change the world during the Reformation. There is no reason to think that technological advances today can’t have the same impact on the world, but the church has to be aware of these opportunities.
MARK CRAWFORD serves as the content strategist for Light + Life Communications and leads the social media efforts of the Free Methodist Church – USA.